Assemblywoman VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE
District 37 (Bergen)
Assemblywoman YVONNE LOPEZ
District 19 (Middlesex)
Assemblywoman GABRIELA M. MOSQUERA
District 4 (Camden and Gloucester)
Requires DOC to install security cameras at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women and review and retain footage.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning security cameras at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women and supplementing Title 30 of the Revised Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. The Commissioner of Corrections shall establish and implement a plan for the strategic placement of a sufficient number of security cameras in the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women to protect inmates from sexual abuse. The plan shall provide for:
a. installation of security cameras throughout the facility including, but not limited to, identified blind-spots, housing unit hallways and entryways, common spaces, and exterior locations;
b. systematic oversight and review of the footage obtained from these security cameras; and
c. retaining all footage from the security cameras for not less than 90 days and maintaining capacity to indefinitely retain footage when necessary.
2. This act shall take effect on the first day of the fourth month next following enactment.
This bill requires the Department of Corrections (DOC) to establish and implement a plan for installing video cameras in the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women. The plan is to provide for the strategic placement of a sufficient number of security cameras to protect inmates in the facility from sexual abuse.
The bill specifically requires installation of security cameras throughout the facility, including in identified blind-spots, housing unit hallways and entryways, common spaces, and exterior locations. The plan also is to provide for the systematic oversight and review of security camera footage. Finally, the plan is to require that all security camera footage be retained for at least 90 days for there to be capacity to indefinitely retain certain footage.
Due to limited cameras in Edna Mahan prior to 2018, abuse of inmates by facility staff occurred in unmonitored areas where there were camera “blind spots.” The DOC began installing additional cameras in 2016, but camera coverage remains deficient and the cameras that were installed were basic commercial models with limited capabilities. The DOC currently is in the final stages of formulating a three-phase installation plan for a new camera system, but no specific completion date has been given. Further, there does not appear to be a plan for staff monitoring of the new cameras.
This bill is in response to the April 2020 report published by the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office District of New Jersey entitled “Investigation of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women (Union Township, New Jersey).” The report concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe conditions at Edna Mahan violate the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution due to facility staff sexually abusing inmates. The report further concludes that the sexual abuse is pursuant to a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of these Eighth Amendment rights.